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CHAPTER X
IN THE PEACE OF OLD ABYDOS
MUCH more than seven thousand years before Muhammed awoke the wandering tribes of Arabia to the worship of a purely spiritual God, there flourished in this land of transparent skies a religion whose adherents carved those giant stone idols which he detested. And yet, the best minds of this religion worshipped the same Unknown God as he did; their faith was not, therefore, a mere credo of idol:worship. The learned Egyptologists of our time can say little more about that religion because it belongs to the epoch of prehistory, an epoch so scanty of material that they cannot lift its veil and can only guess cautiously at its people and events.
There are place in modern Egypt where the temple of the ancients and the mosque of the Muslims stand side by side-as at Luxor—regarding that, we find a striking contrast in this land.
My ears, as I -write, seem to catch the thud of pawing hoofs, and my mind's eye can perceive the lithe-horsed cavalry of Arab invaders planting the green banner of the Prophet throughout Egypt. Time waits with ominous patience . . . and the green yields to red, white and blue—then back again to green. But, behind all—the faint jingling of ancient temple sistrums!
Egypt cannot shake off the emblems of her aboriginal faith. The Past, like a phoenix, arises before our gaze under the marvellous work of the archaeologists. These visible stone tokens remind her of a Past to which she sometimes clings but which more often she ignores.
Yet the borderline between Past and Present is uncertain. The atmosphere of those vanished peoples and of their hoary worship hangs heavily over the land, as every sensitive person will testify. If their temples are now sadly diminished, and often stand broken or roofless at that, with large-winged bats
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